Landlord v. Tenant: August 2013
DOS Violations: Landlord Didn't Make Reasonable Efforts to Keep Curbline Clean
DOS issued a violation notice to landlord for failing to clean 18 inches into the street in front of his building. DOB's inspector noted that she observed bottles, napkins, paper bags, food containers, and juice boxes accumulated and matted within the curbline at 8 a.m. on a January morning. Landlord argued that the building was a three-family house on a street with heavy pedestrian traffic and that his wife cleaned as needed whenever she saw debris. Landlord claimed that his neighbors were responsible for the condition. The ALJ ruled against landlord and fined him $100.
Landlord appealed and lost. Landlord again claimed that his neighbors had broken, uncovered garbage bins. He submitted letters from other neighbors and a tenant who supported this claim. But landlord didn't submit this evidence to the ALJ and ECB wouldn't consider it for the first time on appeal. To defeat the violation, landlord had to show that he made reasonable efforts on a regular daily basis to clean the area. The efforts required varied from case to case, depending on the type of building, the nature of the surrounding neighborhood, and the amount of pedestrian and vehicular traffic. In this case, landlord failed to show he made reasonable efforts to keep the busy area clean. Cleaning "as needed" was insufficient, and landlord was responsible for cleaning in front of his building no matter what the source of the litter was.
- Wallfisch: ECB App. No. 1300225 (5/30/13)
Rent Reduction Ordered: No Proof Tenant Caused Fire Damage to Apartment
Rent-stabilized tenant complained of a reduction in services after a fire damaged his apartment. The DRA ruled for tenant after inspection showed that the refrigerator side and doors were soot-damaged, the bedroom wall had a slight bulge in the plaster work and was not smooth, the living room ceiling wasn't sanded before being painted, the light switch covers in the living room and hallway were missing, the door saddle was missing from the closet, and the wood floor was covered in plaster near the bedroom radiator.
Landlord appealed and lost. Landlord claimed that tenant was negligent and caused the fire in the apartment while cooking. But there was insufficient proof that tenant caused the fire. The Fire Department Incident Report noted that the fire started in the cooking area and a spark caused the fire. But this didn't prove that tenant caused the fire. Landlord also claimed that other apartment conditions were simple "wear and tear," but landlord is required to maintain the apartment and repair conditions, including any caused by wear and tear.
- Homewood Garden Estates LLC: DHCR Adm. Rev. Docket No. AN210017RO (5/9/13)